Like all young people, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) youth need the support of friends, family, and community. Too often, however, LGBTQ youth face rejection, harassment, and isolation. With nowhere else to go and few resources, many end up homeless, in foster care, or trapped in the juvenile justice system.
NCLR’s Youth Project advances the rights of LGBTQ youth through education, public policy, and precedent-setting casework. By bringing the issues faced by LGBTQ youth front and center, we are changing the legal landscape for all youth, and ensuring health and safety for the next generation of all young people.
news & opinion
Federal Appeals Court Allows Enforcement of California Law Prohibiting Dangerous Psychological Practices to Change Minors’ Sexual Orientation
08.29.13 (San Francisco, CA, August 29, 2013)—Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a 2012 California law prohibiting licensed therapists from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender expression of a patient under 18 years old may be enforced by state licensing officials. The ruling states that the plaintiffs in two legal challenges to the law cannot succeed on their claim that the law infringes the free speech rights of therapists who wish to engage in these dangerous and long-discredited practices.
Governor Brown Signs Historic Transgender Student Bill into Law
08.12.13 (San Francisco, CA, August 12, 2013)—Today, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the historic School Success and Opportunity Act into law, ensuring that transgender youth have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in schools across the state. Assembly Bill 1266—which goes into effect on January 1, 2014—was authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and passed the California State Senate and Assembly earlier this summer. The law is the first of its kind in the country. It requires that California public schools respect students’ gender identity and makes sure that students can have equal access to all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities.
Federal Government Resolves Complaint Filed by CA Transgender Student
7.24.13 (San Francisco, CA, July 24, 2013)—Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division announced a resolution to a complaint filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on behalf of a transgender student in California’s Arcadia Unified School District. The resolution requires the school district to treat the student as male in all respects and keep his transgender status private.
Agreement Reached in Lawsuit Against Indianapolis Public Schools For Failing to Protect Gay Student
7.10.13 (Indianapolis, IN, July 9, 2013)—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and Waples & Hanger announced an agreement resolving a lawsuit against the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) filed by Dynasty Young, a former student who sued the district after officials failed to address relentless harassment he experienced at school because he is gay and does not conform to gender stereotypes.
CA Senate Passes Bill Supporting Transgender Student Success
7.05.13 (Sacramento, CA, July 3, 2013)—Today, the California State Senate passed the School Success and Opportunity Act (Assembly Bill 1266), sending the bill that ensures transgender students have the opportunity to succeed in school to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, the bill passed the Senate with a 21-9 vote (unofficial). The bill passed the California State Assembly last month with 46-25 vote.
Bill Supporting Transgender Students Goes to the Senate Floor
6.12.13 SACRAMENTO—Today the California Senate Education Committee passed AB 1266 (Ammiano), the School Success and Opportunity Act, a bill that provides crucial support for transgender students, by a vote of 5-2. The bill will ensure that California public schools understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students, including transgender students, and will allow transgender students to fully participate in all school activities, programs, and facilities. AB 1266 is authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, and is co-authored by Senator Mark Leno, Senator Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Toni Atkins.
Maine Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics Joins Other Child Welfare Organizations on Brief Supporting Transgender Girl
5.3.13—Today, the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and other child welfare organizations filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in support of a transgender girl who experienced discrimination and harassment at her Orono school.
NCLR Applauds Introduction of Bi-Partisan Student Non-Discrimination Act
4.18.13— Today, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced the bi-partisan reintroduction of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). Despite the frequency with which youth are targeted for harassment based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in schools, there are currently no federal comprehensive anti-bullying protections. This legislation would protect students from bullying, violence, and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill enjoys significant support and is being introduced with over 100 original co-sponsors.
School Success and Opportunity Act Passes Assembly Education Committee
4.17.13—The School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266), authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, has passed the Assembly Education Committee by a vote of 5-2. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Equality California, Transgender Law Center, ACLU of California, GSA Network and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, addresses the exclusion of transgender students from classes and activities, and clarifies existing anti-discrimination law to provide clear protections to transgender students.
California Bill Will Ensure the Success and Well-being of Transgender Students
3.4.13—California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano has introduced the School Success and Opportunity Act, Assembly Bill 1266, co-authored by Senator Mark Leno and Senator Ricardo Lara. The bill will ensure that California public schools understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students, including transgender students, and will allow transgender students to fully participate in all school activities, programs, and facilities.
Kansas Supreme Court Rules to Protect the Interests of Children in All Families, Regardless of Parents’ Sexual Orientation
2.22.13—Today, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that when a same-sex couple has a child together, both parents can be fully recognized as parents under Kansas state law. The court explained that Kansas parentage laws apply equally to women and non-biological parents, and that courts must consider the reality of who a child’s parents are in order to protect the interests of children. The court also ruled that an agreement to co-parent and share custody can be enforceable.
Special Fund Helps LGBT “DREAMers” Get Work Permits and Relief from Deportation—LGBT Dreamers Helped So Far Share Their Stories
2.19.13—Nearly 200 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) undocumented young people have either received or are in the process of receiving two-year work permits and reprieves from the threat of deportation, thanks to a fund made possible by over four dozen LGBT organizations.
Leading Mental Health Professional Organizations, Health Care and Constitutional Scholars, and Social Services Providers Urge Appeals Court to Uphold California Law Prohibiting Dangerous Psychological Practices to Change Minors’ Sexual Orientation
2.8.13—A diverse group of prominent mental health professional organizations and social services providers, scholars of constitutional and health care law, civil liberties and religious organizations, the City and County of San Francisco, and individuals and family members filed ten friend-of-the-court briefs this week urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold a 2012 California law that prohibits licensed therapists from trying to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender expression.
NCLR and EQCA Respond to Temporary Delay of CA Law Protecting LGBT Minors from Dangerous Practices that Try to Change Their Sexual Orientation
12.21.12—Today, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily delayed the start date of a new California law that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from therapists who try to change their sexual orientation despite warnings by medical experts that these discredited practices put youth at risk of serious harm.
Federal Court Gives Green Light to California Law Protecting Youth from Dangerous Practices by Therapists Who Claim to Change Sexual Orientation
12.4.12—Today, Judge Kimberly Mueller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a request by an anti-LGBT group to postpone the January 1, 2013 start of the state’s new law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from psychological abuse at the hands of state-licensed therapists who use dangerous practices to try to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression. The ruling means that the law will go into effect as scheduled.
NCLR Responds to Federal Court’s Decision on California Law Protecting LGBT Youth from Dangerous Practices by Therapists Who Claim to Change Sexual Orientation
Statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq.
12.03.12—Today, Judge William B. Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued an order temporarily exempting three plaintiffs from the enforcement of a new law preventing licensed therapists from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender expression. The order applies only to the three plaintiffs and does not prevent the state from enforcing the law against other licensed mental health professionals. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2013.
NCLR Applauds Congresswoman Speier’s Resolution to Protect LGBT Youth from Harmful Attempts to Change their Identity
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
11.28.12—Today, United States Congresswoman Jackie Speier introduced the landmark “Stop Harming Our Kids” resolution, which calls on states to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from dangerous and discredited practices by mental health professionals who falsely claim to be able to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
NCLR and EQCA Move to Intervene in Lawsuit to Defend Law Protecting LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse
10.20.12—Late Friday, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson filed court papers seeking to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the new California law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people from dangerous and potentially deadly psychological abuse. NCLR and Munger Tolles filed the motion on behalf of Equality California asking the federal district court in Sacramento to permit them to join California Attorney General Kamala Harris in defending Senate Bill 1172, which prohibits state-licensed therapists who claim to be able to change their clients’ sexual orientation or gender expression from using dangerous practices that can lead to extreme depression and suicide.
NCLR and EQCA Say Anti-LGBT Groups Are “Grasping at Straws” with Lawsuits Challenging Law Protecting LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse
10.4.12—Today, two anti-LGBT groups, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and Liberty Counsel, filed a second federal challenge to the new law signed Saturday by California Governor Jerry Brown that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people in the state from dangerous and potentially deadly psychological abuse. Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu, co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations.
from the docket
Pickup et al. v. Brown et al.
and Welch et al. v. Brown et al.
On September 29, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the first law in the nation prohibiting state-licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation or gender expression of a patient under 18 years old. Every leading medical and mental health organization in the country has warned that these practices do not work and put young people at risk of serious harm, including depression, substance abuse, and suicide. NCLR and Equality California, the state’s leading LGBT political organization, were the primary organizational sponsors of the law, which was authored by Senator Ted Lieu.
Young v. IPS
Dynasty Young is a seventeen-year-old openly gay young man. Just before the beginning of his junior year of high school, he moved to Indianapolis and enrolled in Arsenal Technical High School. From the first day of school, Dynasty was subjected to relentless, severe harassment and abuse by his peers because he was perceived as gay and gender non-conforming and because he sometimes dressed in clothes and accessories such as knee-high boots, rings, and bangles, and carried a purse.
Doe v. Anoka-Hennepin School District No. 11 and
E.R. v. Anoka-Hennepin School District No. 11
All students should be able to receive an education in an environment that is safe and inclusive. Unfortunately, many schools in the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota have become a frightening and harmful toxic environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. Many students in the district are harassed every day by their peers because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender expression. NCLR joined the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Faegre & Benson LLP in investigating the school district in the fall of 2010 after four LGBT students from the district died by suicide.
In re D.B.
In August 2010, NCLR, the National Juvenile Defender Center, and the Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief arguing that the conviction of a 12-year-old boy, charged and prosecuted for statutory rape—a first degree felony—for intimate conduct with an 11-year-old male friend, was unconstitutional. On June 8, 2011, in a unanimous decision, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed that the law was unconstitutional as applied to any child under 13, and reversed the conviction.
Shelton v. Anoka-Hennepin School District
In January 2011, NCLR and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed an lawcuit against the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota demanding that they allow Desiree "Dez" Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom to walk together in their school assembly. The two, who were girlfriends, were elected by their classmates as part of the royal court for the "Snow Days" dance. To avoid allowing them to participate in the assembly leading up to the dance, schol officials canceled the event. NCLR and SPLC filed a demand letter outlining the District’s violations of the girls’ rights under the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Days later, after mediation talks, the school allowed the girls were able to participate in the assembly as a couple.
California Education Committee, LLC, et al. v. Jack O’Connell et al.
In November 2007, anti-LGBT organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court, challenging California’s safe schools laws that, among other things, protect students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. NCLR clients Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network got involved in the case in order to defend and protect the anti-discrimination laws.
D.A. v. J.W.
Seventeen-year-old J.W. and 18-year-old D.A. had been dating for almost six months when J.W.’s mother, Ms. W., learned about their relationship. Because she disapproved of her daughter dating another woman, in December 2007, Ms. W. petitioned a Florida court to get a restraining order to prohibit any contact between the two. Ms. W. admitted in court that she was seeking a restraining order only because she did not want her daughter to have a relationship with another woman.
Davis v. Fleming High School
NCLR represented Kelli Davis, a senior at Fleming High School, who was denied the right to appear in her senior yearbook because she wore a tuxedo rather than stereotypically feminine clothing.